Hello, Universe

by Erin Entrada Kelly

Other authorsIsabel Roxas (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2017

Call number



Greenwillow Books (2017), Edition: Later Printing, 320 pages


Lives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully's prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well and Valencia, Kaori, and Gen band together in an epic quest to find and rescue him.

User reviews

LibraryThing member rdg301library
2018 Newbery Medalist? Seriously? The book was OK, but not great. Rather tedious, and with some annoying characteristics like unsympathetic mothers (what is up with that in youth fiction lately?), including one who sneaks cigarettes, and kids using matches and candles out in the woods. I listened
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to the audiobook, where Amielynn Abellera read the part of deaf character Valencia, the only one who told the story in first person; Ramon de Ocampo did the rest of the narration.
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LibraryThing member CherylGrimm
What a delightful read, touching on so many issues (bullying, disabilities, insecurity, ecology) and with several giggles thrown in. Virgil Salinas is an 11 year-old boy who is just starting his summer vacation with dismay at not accomplishing his secret goal for the school year. He lives with his
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parents and older twin brothers who gently chide him for his shyness, his parable-wise grandmother (my favorite character) and he has a pet guinea pig. Valencia Somerset is also 11 and has a hearing impairment, a love of nature and chutzpah beyond her years. Kaori Tanaka is 12 and professes a "gift of sight" and, along with younger sister, Gen, offers up sessions to those in need. Chet Bullens is a bully who likes to pick on them all for what he has been raised to believe are shortcomings. Through a labyrinth of fate, everyone connects in one day for peril, rescue and revelation. This is a "should read" for every child AND adult. Pass it around!
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LibraryThing member electrascaife
The characters in this story are a quirky mix of outsiders: Virgil, an extremely shy boy with a pet gerbil, a problem with the class bully, and a friend-crush on a girl with hearing aids and tidy braids; Valencia, a girl with hearing aids and a hard time making friends; Kaori, a girl with a lot of
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self-confidence and a penchant for pretending to dabble in predicting fortunes and reading the stars; and Chet, the snake-poking bully of the story. Their lives come together in an equally quirky way in the neighborhood woods, and the ending is a simple and lovely beginning for new friendships.
Not my favorite Newbery Medal winner, but I liked it. The story is creative and fun, but I felt that the multiple narrator bit took a little long to untangle itself and made the whole thing feel a bit clunky in parts.
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Twelve-year-old Kaori Tanaka believes that nothing in the universe happens by coincidence. She is a take-charge person, with complete confidence in her astrological charts, her own second sight, and her ability to decipher the omens. With the—occasionally reluctant—aid of her younger sister
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Gen, she’s gone into business as a professional psychic. So far, she has one client, Virgil Salinas, a painfully shy boy from a family of extroverts who feels very out of place in the world. He comes to Kaori seeking advice because he has a crush on a girl at school. He hasn’t had the self-confidence to speak to her, and now it’s the first day of summer vacation, he may not even see her again until the fall, and what should he do? Kaori knows what he should do.

“Find five stones, each of a different size. Then bring them to me next Saturday at eleven a.m. sharp. Got it?”

But when the fateful Saturday arrives, Virgil fails to appear. An encounter with the neighborhood bully has left Virgil and his pet guinea pig in a dark deep place, and it will be up to Kaori, her sister, and her second client (ironically the very girl Virgil has a crush on) to discern the signs the universe is sending them to come to his rescue.
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
When Virgil gets stuck in a well, his friends must rescue him. Of course, it would help if they actually knew that he was missing...

Eh, it was good, but I’m not sure it was Newbery good.
LibraryThing member sgrame
Virgil is a very shy sixth-grader. In connecting with a "psychic" who is also a student, he admits his crush on a girl in his class and lack of ability to talk to her. Thanks to a local bully, he ends up trapped at the bottom of an old well with his hamster, and waning hope of rescue. This story is
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one of fate, and growth and the importance of friends. For grades 4-7.
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LibraryThing member tartanlibrary
The lives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully's prank lands one in need of rescue.
LibraryThing member Clphotography
Such a sweet middle grade story. I love her books!
LibraryThing member karenvg3
The last book of April for me. This was a very cute quick read. Really hits home with the shy kid in me. 4🌟🌟🌟🌟
LibraryThing member mcorbink
An adorable story about a young boy, " a weakling" as he thinks of himself, a deaf girl needing to find new friends, and sisters who are as different as night and day. All four come together as unlikely events unfold, "there are no coincidences" the sisters keep saying. You will love this tale of
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friendship, standing up for oneself, and a sweet grandma, who teaches through stories.
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
There are really only six characters in this brilliant tale, with a deceptively simple story line, in which every single element is relevant.
Virgil is a terminally shy boy, seeking the help of a "psychic" to help him meet the girl of his dreams, who he has never spoken to.
Lola is Virgil's
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grandmother, who is the only member of his family to really understand and relate to him.
Chet is a bully in the school and neighborhood, who torments Virgil and Valencia every time he sees them.
Kaori is the wanna-be psychic, who believes the universe and fate are in charge of everything, and she wants to be a part of the plan.
Gen is Kaori's little sister, who sometimes shows more wisdom than Kaori.
Valencia is deaf, and she is the girl of Virgil's dreams.
The plot: As an indirect result of Chet's bullying, Virgil ends up stuck in the bottom of a dried up well, and it is up to Kaori, Gen, Valecnia and the Universe to save him - in more ways than one.
About three quarters of the way through the book, I could see exactly how all the puzzle pieces were going to fit together, and my guesses were all correct. But the lack of surprise didn't dampen the joy of the book at all. Three quarters of the way through the book, I even knew what the last word in the book was going to be. I was right, and it brought tears to my eyes anyway.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Pre-teen, and teen-aged years are difficult. There is no doubt about that. Well aware of this, the author brought four eleven year olds together in a difficult situation where all were changed afterward.

Virgil Salinas is incredibly shy and introverted. He struggles both academically and socially.
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His main life line is is beloved Philaphina grandmother who understands and loves him tremendously. Yet, even his grandmother cannot solve all his difficulties, and like many awkward pre-teens, he is bullied by those who see him as a target for their power.

Chet Bullens has the perfect last name, as he truly is a big bully. He copies his father's behaviours and because his father is a successful businessman, Chet believes bullying nets great reward. While he emulates his father, he also is the brunt of nastiness by him. None are spared by Chet's supreme unkindness and insecurity.

Valencia Somerset is hearing impaired, spunky, intelligent, and also has the ability to feel the sting of Chet the Bully and others who tend to think she is abnormal because she wears hearing aids. Virgil Salinas has a crush on her, but for fear of rejection, would never let her know he admires her.

One of the most interesting of the characters is Kaori Tanaka, a self proclaimed psychic who states on her card "New Clients Welcome -- No Adults." And, it is her knowledge that saved Virgil when he climbed into a well in a wooded area where it was difficult to find him.

Walking through the woods to Kaori's house because he wanted guidance regarding his nightmares, he came upon Chet the bully, who threw his backpack down the well. Virgil's beloved guinea pig was in the backpack. When he tried to rescue his guinea pig, he was very much in harm's way.

The character development is strong. Observing the world through four pre-teens reminds us all that growing and learning is a very difficult task in this very complicated world.

I haven't read many Newbery books lately, still this one, when compared with others simply did not seem Newbery Medal worthy.

4/5 Stars.
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LibraryThing member asomers
Ms. Kelly does a wonderful job of weaving together individual threads to create a beautiful tale about overcoming lonliness and learning to make friends.
LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
Cute, yet not quite realistic story, about fate, friendship, and finding your voice.
LibraryThing member detailmuse
This Newbery Medal-winning middle-grade novel is narrated in the perspectives of four kids in the summer after sixth grade -- a shy boy; a solitary deaf girl; a girl exploring her mystic/psychic interests (with a hilarious younger sister-assistant); and a bullying boy.

It’s an exploration of
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diversity (ethnic, physical, personality) and connection (“there are no coincidences”) more so than having a strong plotline, but the short chapters in alternating narratives keep the story moving.
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LibraryThing member cindywho
When I read that the latest Newbery Medal book included a guinea pig - I had to read it. The pig, Gulliver, encounters some danger but is OK. He gets plenty of dandelion greens. Otherwise it's a story of tweens starting the summer in need of new friends and finding them...
LibraryThing member wrightja2000
Fun characters that I enjoyed except for the bully- he seemed a little too one-sided. The story had the flavor of magic realism.
LibraryThing member SusanGeiss
I really liked this book until the end. It ended very abruptly, I thought.
LibraryThing member bell7
Virgil is extremely shy and doesn't fit in with his own family, except with his Lola with whom he has a special relationship. He goes to his friend Kaori, a self-proclaimed psychic, for advice in meeting a girl, who he will only tell her has the same initials as he does: V.S. Meanwhile, Valencia is
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a deaf girl with hearing aids navigating their school with no friends, and while she's perfectly happy in her own company, she also has nightmares of being alone. And finally, both have to deal with the same bully in the neighborhood.

The characters lives intersect throughout this story, which takes place in a matter of days but also gives you back story for Virgil, Valencia, and Chet (the bully) leading up to events. Kaori would say the universe aligned events to happen in the ways they did, but I'm not sure as an adult reader that the quirky characters and just-so-happened plot worked for me as well as it may have for a kid. I kept trying to figure out if I was supposed to take Kaori seriously or not instead of just enjoying the story. But Virgil and Valencia are easy to root for and I enjoyed their growth enough that the last moments made me smile.
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LibraryThing member AR_bookbird
I hesitate giving this 3 stars because it is a Newberry winner but I felt the character development was weak for some of the characters and there was the use of a very derogatory term used by the bully in the story. Just my opinion but even if characterizing a bully, out of date, derogatory terms
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referring to individuals with disabilities should not be part of the 2018 lexicon.
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LibraryThing member jennybeast
This is a fun book, and it's a good book. I don't understand why it won the Newbury, or what the author's obsession with falling down wells is, but I do love the wacky cast of characters, the theme of finding your voice, and the guinea pig. It's good fun.
LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
Loved this book. Perfect for grades 3 to 8 (and for adults, too). The voices ring true—from shyness and insecurity to being outspoken and confident. How do we treat others and why? Do our families understand us as kids? Is there a greater force at work that pulls some people into the same groups?
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It was not didactic, but it taught me more about empathy and the complicated nature of individuals.

A tiny misstep: Kaori lights incense near the beginning of the book. During a critical point near the end, she sends her little sister to "get Mom's secret matches." Not needed if she was already lighting incense. And I did feel uneasy about what they did with those matches, so I'll bring that up with my student readers when they finish it.

I'm adding this 2018 Newbery winner to our school library.
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LibraryThing member GRgenius
Virgil is such a kind soul, and seeing him getting it from every side just took it right out of my heart. I mean all the boy wants is to feel accepted in his own family (and outside of Lola, that seems like a wish/dream versus reality), have enough backbone to make friends with a kindred spirit in
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school (who happens to be a girl, but don't stress him out over that fact), and stop the bully from continually making him run scared. Is that too much to ask? Exactly... but sometimes those things we wish for, hope for, dream of...come about in unexpected ways...case in point, his daylong nightmare.

So, without ruining the suspense or revealing the whole story, I can tell you this...my heart was literally beating out of my chest as I waited to see what would happen. It's a book that will inspire readers young and young at heart to grab a hold of today, and not let a moment pass you by, because you never know when your time will come...and who wants to live with "what if's" when you could be enjoying the "what may be's"?

**copy received for review; opinions are my own
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